Posts Tagged ‘boys’

Come in and know me better, man.

As I have been struggling to process the death of my father, lovingly known as Bear and Bearpaw (Grandpa), certain aspects of my relationship with him continue to surface repeatedly.  One of them was staring me in the face, literally.  I found a picture of my dad with my sons that I had forgotten about.  I took it at our annual outing to see A Christmas Carol performed by Gerald Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens’ great great grandson.  It was our fourth year at the show and Bearpaw was goofing off with the boys while waiting in line for photos with Mr. Dickens.  The boys had worn their Dickens hats and Bearpaw had covered Younger Son’s face with his hat.  Then he dropped the hat down and I captured a beautiful picture of the three of them, full of the Christmas spirit, full of love, full of joy.

Dickens hat down

This picture shows Bear’s love of love.  His love of his grandchildren.  His love of life.  I realized only now as I have been missing him terribly why he loved this particular version of A Christmas Carol so much.

First, he got to share it each year with his family.  The boys were six and eight the first year we went. It’s tradition now.  And yet every year we forget when we’re supposed to participate.  (Ooh, ahh…!)  Bear also loved that every year Dickens would tweak the script, the story parts a little bit.

That was his second love of A Christmas Carol.  It’s one of the greatest stories.  And my dad loved to tell stories (good and bad)!  He loved the art of storytelling and appreciated the details, the characters, the shared human experiences.

When Scrooge is with the Ghost of Christmas Present, “Come in and know me better, man”, we hear the stories of the people, the food they ate, the games they played.  Bear celebrated many days that way.  Special occasions and regular ones.  Scrooge discovered the importance of living life in the past, present, and future.  Bear lived his life this way.  He held the past, present, and future in his heart.

On Easter, Bearpaw would create the wonderful Easter egg hunt for the boys and the boys would miss standard eggs each year. Bearpaw would laugh each year.  He added little clues and goofy challenges to add more fun.

On Christmas as we sat around the dinner table feeling full and blessed, Bear would pass around the lottery game tickets and he would sit with the biggest smile on his face as we furiously scratched off the silver covering to see if we won.

On any day he would add games and laughter, whether it was telling you about a spot on your shirt (and then gently flicking your nose as you looked down) or “fixing his toupee” (he could move his scalp to make his hair look out of place and then “shift” it back into place). I still can’t do that trick!

And, like the Ghost of Christmas Present, he wanted folks to come in and know him better, man and in turn get to know them better too.  He loved chatting with people he would meet.  Sharing experiences, discovering what he and the person might have in common.  All it took was a little time to share together and in a few minutes of talking with my father, you knew you had come in and known him better, man.

His life was full of love.  There were rough times.  There were sad times.  But Bear always was full of love.  He loved index cards-he used them every day, for categorizing things, saving notes, reminders.  He loved index cards and paper plates, but index cards were more portable (fit right in his front shirt pocket).  I found one the night he died on which he had written:

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Tomorrow is another new day.”

a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Below the quote he wrote, in parentheses, the word “over”.  Upon turning the card over, you read this quote from Goethe,

“There is nothing worth more than this day.”

And then again in parentheses, below the quote, the word “over”.  With a simple index card he had created a perpetual motivator.  Something to remind him that each day was so valuable and to live each day the best you could.  And Bear did.  He lived each day to the fullest, carrying the past, present, and future in his heart.

So remember from my father these pieces of advice.

From Emerson, “Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Tomorrow is another new day.”

From Goethe, “There is nothing worth more than this day.”

From my dad, “Stand tall, shoulders back, head up.”

And from Dickens, “Come in and know me better, man.”

Try it with the next person you meet.  Go in and know him better, man.

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The school year comes to a close once again this Friday. The boys are very excited about it as they have not really been doing work for the past week and can’t wait for it to be over. They are also very excited because we will see Jurassic World this Friday after school lets out.

It has been a very rough year for both of my sons. Older son has been struggling with pre teen angst and all the joy and fun that goes with that. This also was the year that he discovered he has to actually do work in order to get straight A’s. He had his first F in his life although he did pull it back up to a B- just in the nick of time. He did well on his math placement test and I’m sure he will still be in honors next year.

Younger son’s year was filled with struggle because of that highly annoying bully. He simply can’t wait for 4th grade to be over. He also faces the challenge of his best friend moving away this November. However baseball offered some wonderful relief to these struggles. His team won the championship in the minors division. So as is always the case, there is balance and to quote Ian Malcolm life find a way.

As for me I am finishing my marathon 6 week summer courses and soon my life will settle down a bit too. And yes to relax I will declutter my house.

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Long ago, in the time of John Hughes’ movies, a friend of mine had the coolest family room in his house.  It was simply called the pit.  It had a television and a never-ending couch.  Literally, it was like a big square couch that filled one entire end of the room.  It was a place to hang out. It was a room away from the kitchen, where his parents usually were hanging out so the “grown-ups” weren’t hanging on every word, but you also knew they could walk in at any minute.

I didn’t spend a ton of time in the pit, but enough time that it never quite left my memory.  I always thought it would be cool to give my sons a similar space so that they could hang out without us hanging on every word.  A space for playing their video games or watching Netflix without me telling them to “turn it down”.  We have a family room type space downstairs that has really been in limbo wondering what it’s true purpose would be.  We now know.  It’s the 21st century Pit, which the boys have dubbed “The Cave”.

Now, we’re blessed that our sons are happy with the simple things in life.  We have primarily hand-me-down furniture in our home.  Which is fine by me.  I don’t have to cry when they spill something on it-it came pre-loved.  So far in the cave are these storage cabinets from Hubby’s childhood room, an entertainment center from our neighbor’s, a televisions from the same neighbors, and one of those benches with the cubbies in the bottom to store gaming stuff.  Powering the fun is the Xbox 360-gateway to games and Netflix.  Well, they boys are happy with simple things, but have been asking if they could get somewhere better to sit.

Those fantastic neighbors, who are better than we probably deserve, texted me tonight and asked if we could find a purpose for their old couch from their family room.  Boys, I’ve got you some awesome seats now.  The Pit…sorry, The Cave is truly taking shape.  Even without me having replaced the floors yet.

The Cave is a wonderful thing.  It’s helping the boys transition from their older boys to young men phase of life.  There are a ton of toys down there in bins, but they are ready to let them go knowing it will pave the way for The Cave.  I don’t want them to grow up too fast, but it is inevitable.  If we can make it as safe and fun as possible, they’ll appreciate it one day.  And with great friends furnishing their teen years (which are right around the corner), they’ll start finding their way.

In 1985 I saw The Breakfast Club and it shaped the rest of my life.  I always related best to the character that Ally Sheedy played, those who knew me in high school will understand why.  Anyway, Allison has one of the greatest lines ever.  “It’s inevitable.  When you grow up, your heart just dies.  Bender says “who cares” and Allison responds “I care.”  I have made sure that I never fully grew up so my heart wouldn’t die.  And I want that for my sons.  The Cave will help keep them young.

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Lazy autumn day

With Hubby at a work convention for his CEUs, the boys and I are spending a lazy day at home. We haven’t done that in quite awhile as there was always somewhere to be. So far the bathroom got a deep cleaning and I am fearful the washing machine will fight back with all the attention it’s suddenly getting. And I don’t have to cook dinner because we have a lovely church dinner to go tonight.

I am quickly losing motivation to do anything else purposeful. I see an hour or so cuddling up with a book in my future. Or cuddling with my sons if they aren’t too angry about the chores they had to do.

They had a bet this week that they could go a week without fighting, without YouTube, and would have clean bedrooms by the end of the week. All that for the low wager of $20 each if successful. If the parents won, the boys had to do five chores of our choice. They’re on chore #1. Fighting gets them every time. They even fought over whether or not they had a fight. But it was pleasantly quiet around here for four days. And their rooms will still get cleaned…chore #1.

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While taking the boys to camp this afternoon, I wept silently several times.  Not just because I miss them while they are at camp, but because I loved what they were doing in the backseat.  They played with their stuffed animals that they were bringing to camp.  They created a whole universe in the backseat during the ride.  Blue Bear, Little Blue Bear, Elmo’s Blanket, T-Rex, Zarzac, and their little camp animals were knee-deep in it and all I know for certain is it involved codes, breaking said codes, the animals’ mothers, and some type of court.


When we got to camp, I saw two mothers driving out of the camp, both wiping tears away from their eyes.  That got me going again.  We got them settled in their cabins, a very regular routine this summer, and then said our goodbyes.  On our way out of the camp, we dropped off the care packages.  Younger son will turn 9 this Thursday and that also helped me cry.  I hate like hell not being with him on his birthday, but he says he enjoys the celebration at camp.  Hearing their names called out even before they walked through the door today makes me believe everything they say about camp, so I trust he enjoys his birthday there.  Plus, they both get care packages in connection to it.


After dropping off the care packages, we started the ride home and it felt longer.  I cried.  Hubby said each time they go to camp, they come home more grown up.  It’s true and it’s a good thing, but knowing that we dropped them off to some serious growing up on their own gives me pause and made me cry a little bit today.

I am so thankful we are able to send the boys to camp, to let them stand on their own, and grow in ways that they can’t when we’re around.  And even though they will be a little more grown up next Saturday, they’ll always be my babies.


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Quiet House

It’s an eerily quiet house.  The boys are at camp.  I am sure they are having a blast.  I am sure they miss us a little bit, but maybe not as much as we miss them.  While they are away, Hubby and I get to have a date night or two.  Plus we’re working on some house projects.  The boys picked out a swing-set and we are working to have it assembled before we pick them up on Saturday.  It’s cool-looks sort of like a light house and has a rock wall, slide, and little stools at a counter for snacks.

Plus there’s gardening (read weeding), cleaning, purging toys, and hanging the bloody border in our bedroom.

Tonight the fireworks started in the neighborhood and Rex has been scared since.  This is his least favorite week of the year.  Poor little guy.  He was outside with me as I checked the level of the ground (for the swing-set) and he let me brush him.  Once he stopped trying to run away from the brush, he discovered he liked it.  Hopefully, he’ll let me brush him again in a few days.  Poor little scaredy dog.

The kittens are huge, by the way.  Well, Loki is still petite, but Cujo and TJ are HUGE!  Big appetites for all three of them, not sure where Loki puts all the food.  I suppose it’s the same as where the boys put all the food they eat.

They love the food at camp.  Waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage at breakfast.  Wide variety for dinner, plus some camp classics like hot dogs, hamburgers, and of course…the snackery.

Tonight, the kittens are sleeping downstairs.  The boys took their fans to camp and their rooms became really stuffy.  The cats like “hunting” the beardies, so they can’t be upstairs when the doors are open.  Then I have to barricade the doors slightly so Rex doesn’t commandeer any of the boys belongings as his own!

Quiet house.  Eerily quiet house.



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The boys both got mohawks.  Check them out.

IMG_7311 IMG_7312 IMG_7314

And you get a little preview of the new wall color…mango!

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I will preface this post about global warming with several facts.  First, I am so not a science person.  I respect science and scientists, but I can’t do what they do.  Two, I’ve been teaching four nights a week after working my regular job and then grading papers on the weekend so I’m really not thinking straight.  But…these are the thoughts lingering in my brain tonight.

So the press has been yapping about global warming again.  I know the weather is changing, but this really isn’t a new concept.  Or at least according to the BBC’s Ultimate Dinosaur Collection.  The Earth has had changes over the millennia, eras, and eons.  Different levels of oxygen, different levels of carbon dioxide, and other stuff.  If you watch the whole collection, Sir Kenneth Branagh will narrate all of the changes for you.  In my opinion this is yet another cycle in the Earth’s existence.  Weather happens, it’s nature, natural, and it can’t be controlled.  I’m just a wee bit tired of listening to the same stuff over and over.  I seriously doubt the dinosaurs talked about it this much.

Another issue is the helium shortage.  Some say we have enough for 300 years while others say we’re running out.  I would prefer to defer to the concept of shortage and preserve it for the scientific purposes it serves and not use it for party decorations.  I like using it to run MRI machines and for cooling samples.  Just saying.

Finally, because I don’t want to be all gloom and doom on a Friday night, the boys got pedicures tonight.  I was doing my toenails and they asked if I would paint their toes.  Hee hee.  Their feet look so pretty!



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Oldest son had his first baseball game of the season tonight.  Such a feeling of Americana came over me.  Children were running around the ball fields screaming and having fun.  Parents were walking dogs, cheering on their kids, and taking lots of pictures.  Older teens were skipping rocks in the stream that runs along the back of the park.  Oldest son’s team lost (13-11) but he asked if we could celebrate his first game.  To an eight year old, this means a trip to McDonald’s.

After dinner the boys went straight to bed.  I hopped on the old internet and read some more about the late great Dick Clark.  He was and is a part of Americana.  One piece I read mentioned Peggy Sue Got Married and the comment about him never looking older or never aging (I forget the exact quote).  I always think of the lines from When Harry Met Sally.  Harry is alone on New Year’s Eve and he’s watching the ball drop.  In his voice-over he says something like this being good, “…You’ve got Dick Clark, that’s tradition.”

My memories of Dick Clark are not specific events (except for the line from Harry) but rather a series of vague memories.  The main thing I remember is that my mom and I bonded and connected early on because of Dick Clark.  We’d watch American Bandstand and my mom would tell me about the music she liked and what she listened to growing up.  Music was always something we talked about and I still connect to music from the 70s really easily.  Plus my uncle was a DJ at a local radio station at the time.  He’d play “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey for me during his shift.  Of course, I now know that due to the long length, he may have said it was for me, but he probably played it so he could run to the bathroom. “American Pie”, “Hotel California”, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” were all good bathroom songs for DJs.  But still the piano in “Wildfire” is haunting to me.  I love the music from the 70s-the singer/songwriters.  I am not a big fan of the popular/Top 40 music of today.  I sound so cliche saying that, but it’s true.  The songs today don’t seem to have discernible melodies unless it’s from a musical.  I’m sure it’s artistic and will be appreciated for the changes it brought to the music industry one day, but overall it sounds like noise to me.

But when I was a youngin’, Dick Clark helped introduce me to music and create a special life-long bond with my mom.  Americana grew richer through his work.  I’ve been floating in the 70s all day and the ballpark was filled with a 70s vibe tonight.  Children making up games to pass the time as a sibling played ball.  Cheers coming from different directions.  Lots of “good try” and “good job” and “baseball ready” filled the air.  Youngest son had a hot dog.  I do believe that’s a federal law.  Six-year-olds must eat a hot dog at the ball park.  Hot dogs at the ball park on a warm spring evening.  Boys and Americana.

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